Good fire news from FEMA, humidity - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Good fire news from FEMA, humidity

April 19, 2007

Waycross -- Firefighters are making slow progress against two wildfires that have more than one-thousand people from their homes and destroyed 14 houses in southeast Georgia. The fires have spread over more than 45 square miles of dry forest land.

Over 40 agencies have partnered  to fight the 25,000 acre wild fire in Ware County, which is only 35 percent contained, despite a massive effort from the fire department and forestry officials from around the state.

Now they've announced some federal help is on the way. The Federal Emergency Management Agency help will allow for more trucks on the ground, planes in the air, and general resources to help finally put this fire out. And help the Georgia Forestry commission shoulder the burden.

"At first the Georgia Forestry Commission and the local departments were footing the bill, but now that the government  has declared this a disaster, a federal disaster, they're going to come in and give us some funding," said Forestry Public Information Officer Eric Mosley.

"Just in April alone we've had 680 wild fires across the state.  To put a perspective on it, our fire numbers are up 14 percent, and our acres burned up are up 40 percent,"  said Georgia Forestry Commission Director Robert Farris.

They say due to the extremely dry conditions, they've already experienced 6,500 fires in the state this year and their drought index has been running almost 200 points above normal.

With the additional money and resources, the Forestry Commission is optimistic they'll have the fire out within 48 more hours.

Mosley says one fire has reached the outer edges of the Okefenokee refuge. Officials say that fire -- the larger of the two -- has burned into a wet prairie area and slowed.      

A spokesman for the refuge -- Shawn Gillette -- says the smaller fire, a little more than three square miles, has burned to within five miles of the refuge but is mostly contained.        

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The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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